Mesocosms in the media

Two new videos have been added in the Media page of the blog, where you can find all the articles we found in the media related to the experiment.

The two videos have been realised by France 3 Corse, the local anten of the national french chanel.

France 3-national french chanel- video 1

What do we do when you are not here?…n°2

Most of you after the experiment went directly on holidays in Corsica, or with your family. So, when your boxes have left Stareso (and Villefranche) , all major common material (centrifuge, fridges, mesocosms structure….) is back to its place in Villefranche, we (LOV team)…. go in holidays also!! This is why this blog will be idle for a moment.

There will have other post about the first scientific workshop, when the next mesocosm experiment will be anounced (yes, there will have another one….) and when anything worth to be published!!
The administrative responsibles, scientists, student and cooks from Stareso are really sad that the MedSeA team isn’t there anymore. They send us nice email to thank us because we leave the labs very clean but they also announced us that Maki died few days after our departure…

This is the end for the moment. See you soon for more informations!

Villefranche Sur Mer (by Walter)

All right. The LOV team has completed its task of cleaning the Stareso harbor, disassembling the mesocosms and make clear the laboratories. Home sweet home!
But I will miss Stareso, Corsica and this mission for MedSeA Project ..
I will miss the sunrises and sunsets, spectacular landscapes, the madness with colleagues, Winkler party (!) and not just that, all works by night, the alarm set at 3.30 am for the process sampling, the different cultures and shared knowledges.

Alba nei pressi di Stareso (sunrise near Stareso)

It was a wonderful experience for me (super!), where fatigue has begun to be felt at about half the work but not prevented us from achieving our set goals. Everything has been completed, almost everything went smoothly and I’m very happy.
Now we just have to work on the data obtained, as far as I’m concerned about the analysis of O2 and make some considerations .. but I am compelled to share the office of the Laboratory of Villefranche with this researcher …

Samir at home…

and after all..

I hope to see you all together soon!!

What do we do when you are not here ??… n°1

Since Saturday you must all think: but can they do when all the material is charged, there is nothing to prepare in the small Stareso station?
Well , we go to the Fango!! It’s an amazing area at 1h30 from Stareso. The Fango is a river coming from the montain with basins where you can swim in fresh water at 25°C!!! So, after lunch we spend 3 hours there only for relaxing. The divers dried themselves on rocks after the hard unscrewing activity they did Friday.

The landscape is completely different from what we can see in Stareso. Other montains, other vegetation, other local population (there is lot of families with kids going to the Fango) and other fishes (yes there is trout in the river as well as other small fishes).

Our guide (ndrl Jean-Michel) brought us in a small Auberge near the Fango for a ice-cream! Perfect afternoon before coming back to finish the work…

So this is the end, number 2 !

We are even closer to the end today : we just finished loading the truck ! The station seems really empty now !!
We were all scared about this step because we are not numerous (only 9 people from the LOV) and there are lots of things to load. Luckily the truck driver was already involved in the previous mesocosms experiment (DUNE) and he arrived with lots of material to make it easier. In 2 hours everything have been loaded. We managed to make enough space in the small truck to transport the samples in good conditions.

The before/after loading picture!

What’s next? We’ll have a quiet afternoon! We leave tomorrow afternoon, Monday first hour we unload and we can really say the experiment is finished (well never finished because we still have to unpack and store everything in Villefranche!).However this is not the end of the blog. There will be at least one post about how to disassemble the mesocosms. And what is the work after the experiment.

So this is the end!

So Monday was our last sampling day and a lot of people already left Stareso. We have been very busy packing, cleaning and mainly disassembling the 9 mesocosms. The weather was better and we have been able to work quickly being a great team, it is of course very efficient. Jean-Michel,Didier, David and Grigor arrived to reinforce the diving team as a lot has to be done under water. Francis also came back to take care of the logistic on the quay when the mesocosms are being bring back from the mooring. This step really ends the experiment. It was an extraordinary human and scientific adventure and a successful experiment for sure… tiring, yes but hopefully our results are going to meet our expectation,at least, we did our best to make it. As a souvenir, Frederic created nice ‘MedSea’ t-shirts and we are all happy to wear it on the picture! The experiment is over but not this blog, still open for more thoughts and
news…. Until the next experiment!!

From left to right and men (back line) to women (first line): Samir, LoIc, Walter, Thanos, Mauro and Vincent. Raquel, Afrodite, Francesca, Cécile, Anastasia, Martina, Angela, Amélie, Cinzia, Denise, Lisa, Justine and Laure. Missing people: Fred, Andy, Louisa, Tanya, Anggeliki, Karine, Clémence, Eija and Aurélie.

Sediment traps, the best part !!! (by Amélie)

Mesocosms are like iceberg, the big part is underwater, the bottom is around 14m of depth and at the bottom of the bag there are the famous sediment traps.

Underwater view of the meso

I am in charged of sediment traps, they need to be changed everyday! It’s the best part of the mission, every afternoon I go with Sylvain to replace the sediment traps (which consiste in a plastic bottle screwed on the sediment particules manifold). We are totally independent, we go under water from the station to the mesocosms using underwater scooter, it’s so cool!!! It’s very fast around 20 minutes to go, change the nine traps and come back.

Sylvain and Amélie leaving the harbor to change the sediment traps

Under water it’s so calm (even when very windy at the surface), everyday we are welcomed by a multitude of curious fish.

We found a lot of swimmers in sediment traps and sometimes jellyfish!

The plastic bottles which are changed every day.

A jellyfish in the sediment trap!!

The sediment traps collection is done to measure the export of organic and inorganic carbon and see if there are differences between treatments.

I would like to sincerely thank Sylvain who come with me everyday and Alex (the Sunday afternoons) as well as Stephen who took a really nice pictures of mesocosms.

Nutrients sampling

The Mediterranean Sea in general, and the Calvi Bay in particular, are very oligotrophic areas. As a result, organisms living in their waters are adapted to low nutrient concentrations, and even small changes in these concentrations can cause big perturbations of natural communities.

Thanks to the mesocosm experiment, we (Sylvie Gobert from University of Liège, and Loïc Michel, from the Stareso research station) will try to understand if ocean acidification could modify nutrient concentrations in Calvi Bay. To do so, we take daily samples to monitor nitrates and nitrites, ammonium, phosphates and silicates concentrations in each of the mesocosms, as well as an “extra” sample out of the mesocosms. We look forward to seeing which trends emerge from the data, and we hope that they can be useful for other scientists taking part of the experiment too…

Once the water is sampled, we have to condition the samples. This is the most critical part of our jobs, because by this time, it is usually around 11 AM. Since labs are quite crowded, we work directly on the Stareso dock, under the burning Corsican sun. During this dangerous task, the only things that prevent us from baking are 1) our beloved straw hats (see fig. 1) and 2) a very good hydration plan based on refreshing Corsican beer. After conditioning, we place the samples in the freezer (for NO2- + NO3-, NH4+ and PO43-) or in the fridge (for SiO44-).

Nutrient conditioners hard at work under the Corsican sun.

Now the experiment is nearly finished, and nearly all samples are stored, patiently awaiting analysis. On Sunday (July 15th), our colleague Renzo Biondo (also from Lab of Oceanology, University of Liège) will join us, and we will start the analysis step. All nutrient concentrations will be determined at Stareso, using our Skalar automated continuous flow automated analyser. Methods differ for each compound, but all are based on colorimetric detection. When everything runs smoothly, this type of analysis is rather quick, and we hope to be done in about a week… However, the analyser is a whimsical machine, and a lot of things can go wrong. To ensure that the Nutrient God is with us, we consider sacrificing one of the station’s cats to him. Let’s hope it will be enough to please him!

(NOT!) gone with the wind!! (by Cécile)

Sampling with wind conditions at least 15 kt has become very usual for the MedSea mesocosm team and we are now able to work such very difficult conditions. It is amazing and the participants are amazing on their cubi. We have put diving weights in the samples boxes to avoid any flying boxes to the water! Yes, we have been experiencing high winds since several days now and yes, we are ok but most surprisingly, the mesocosms are still in very good shape and no damage were found by our diving team (Amélie and Sylvain) who go to the mesocosms everyday to change the sediment traps. As they go under water from the Stareso station using funny ‘underwater scooter’, they could go to the site, even yesterday. They said it was very nice and calm at 15 m depth! Indeed yesterday, the wind was so strong that we were not able to go out with the boat as the security was concerned. We have been deciding on the sampling strategy by following very carefully the forecast: for those who are used to sail in the Med Sea, they know as the wind can change rapidly, and as it can increase its speed even more rapidly. We have a ‘Special Forecast Warning’ since 4 days now and it seems difficult in the present condition to predict what will really happen in term of wind …. Apparently, the worse has to come as they predict a huge wind event for tomorrow (figure from http://www.lamma.rete.toscana.it/meteo/modelli/vento-e-mare)… Huh, no doubt that tomorrow will be a quiet day in the labs, except for the incubated samples that hopefully we will be able to withdraw quickly with the rubber boat early tomorrow morning!

Here is the forecast map. Corsica is surrounded by red wind areas! This is for tomorrow (Sunday) at 12pm.

Apart from being quite annoying for our daily sampling routine, this event is going to be very interesting in term of results as a specific forcing on the structure of the surface mixed layer, on the air-sea exchanges and on the functioning of the ecosystem.